Tuesday May 10, 2016
Seventy-five years ago today (May 10, 1941) - an unarmed fighter aircraft from Germany entered the skies over the Scottish countryside at a pivotal point in World War II. Out parachuted Rudolf Hess, Hitler's Deputy Fuhrer, apparently hoping to forge a peace treaty between Britain and Germany. So began one of the most puzzling episodes of World War II.
Hess was found in a meadow by a farmer. Hess' proposal wasn't taken seriously and he was imprisoned for the rest of the war. He was later convicted at the Nuremberg trials to a life sentence. Ten days earlier, Hitler had set the date for his attack on the Soviet Union, which would come the next month, in June 1941. Most historians believe that Hess came up with the idea of establishing peace with Britain - without Hitler's knowledge - to strengthen Germany's hand against the Soviet Union.
But when Hess' location was disclosed by the British, Hitler became enraged and ordered his name blotted from public records. Some say they believe that the Nazi leader rejected Hess, who had a reputation for dogged loyalty, only after his peace bid failed. In a further twist, K.G.B. documents show that British intelligence might have lured Hess with false promises of a settlement. We'll get a look at a few more pieces of the Hess flight puzzle next year when Britain is scheduled to unseal the archival material on his interrogations.
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